September 21, 2023


The Internet Generation

Google Pixel 4 review: A great camera isn’t enough to justify the high price

In the Pixel 4, Google has delivered a wonderful camera boosted with software program wizardry. The firm’s initially telephoto lens is top of its course (you should not consider our term for it: Below are 24 photographs taken with the Pixel 4). It can make portrait capturing a breeze and it truly is no more time unattainable to zoom in on distant objects and consider a first rate picture. I failed to get a prospect to verify out the camera’s new method for taking photographs of stars because they weren’t visible in the spot I was testing. 

But for all the camera’s brilliance, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL (these telephones are approximately equivalent other than in size and battery) are pricey given the quantity of storage involved: The Pixel 4 starts off at $800, (£669, AU$1,049) while the Pixel 4 XL fees $900 (£829, AU$1,279). They only occur with 64GB at individuals rates, with no solution to expand. If you want 128GB, you can expect to require to tack on $100 more.

Accurate, other top quality telephones land in the similar price variety. But the Iphone eleven ($699 at Apple), which also has dual rear cameras and will not have expandable storage, starts off at $699 (£729, AU$1,199) for 64GB — $100 fewer than the Pixel 4 — and the 128GB edition is $150 more affordable than the 128GB Pixel 4. The Galaxy S10 fees $900 (£799, AU$1,349) but it has expandable storage, and the $950 Take note ten (£899, AU$1,499), which will not have expandable memory, at least has 256GB on board.

When it will come to very affordable Android possibilities, we dwell in a world of loads. There are about, oh, a million Galaxy S10 possibilities you can select from that have equivalent cameras. The Galaxy S10E, though not as top quality as the Pixel 4, fees $750, has expandable storage and has two cameras. And then there is the darkish-horse OnePlus 7T ($599 at OnePlus).

To compensate for its restricted storage, Google is banking on Pixel entrepreneurs working with Google Photos for storing photographs and videos. But if you’re like me and you like onboard storage, syncing all your things with the cloud just isn’t pleasing. Google also adjusted its policy so that Pixel 4 customers you should not have unlimited picture storage at first quality. Rather, you can upload written content at significant quality, which is a reduce resolution with fewer detail.

If you’re pleased to use Google Photos and have the finances, think about the Pixel 4. It does have some nifty captioning software program with its Android ten update, and you can expect to have a person of the very best cameras about. But if you want to get the most for your funds, think about the Galaxy S10, the Take note ten, the OnePlus 7T or even the discounted Pixel 3 from final 12 months. All of these telephones have more time battery existence than the Pixel 4 way too, and the Pixel 3 fees only $499, has a amazing camera and can update to Android ten. 

Take a deeper dive into Pixel 4 comparisons: This is how the Pixel 4 differs from final year’s Pixel 3how it stacks up against the Galaxy Take note ten and all the Pixel 4 specs versus the Iphone eleven, Galaxy S10E and OnePlus 7T.

Update, Nov. 1, 2019: Provides battery take a look at effects and ultimate scoring.

Pixel 4 will get two rear cameras, astrophotography

The Pixel 3’s most powerful aspect was its excellent camera, and we ended up impressed by how effectively it captured lovely photographs working with just a single rear camera at a time when its opponents wanted two or more. On the Pixel 4, on the other hand, Google added a second telephoto camera (though that is nonetheless fewer than other telephones that wield a few or even 4 rear cameras). Google says it went with a telephoto camera as a substitute of a broad-angle because it felt it was more crucial to zoom. The Iphone eleven Professional, Huawei Mate 30 and Take note ten telephones have broad-angle cameras though, which can fit more written content in just about every frame.

The second telephoto lens allows the camera to consider far better portrait shots. It also does a far better work at smoothing out difficult spots like hair and fur than ahead of. (A hard picture of me, shot on a specially windy working day, did have patchy spots though.) You can also consider portrait photographs from farther absent now.


Google added a telephoto camera to the Pixel 4.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The camera’s HDR Plus aspect, which compiles multiple visuals to give you a single picture with the very best exposure, can be viewed in actual time. This is useful, but I you should not like how you won’t be able to change off HDR in basic. I’m not constantly a lover of the outcome, on any phone truly, because it can make photographs appear unrealistic or extremely processed. Even though I can tweak visuals with the two new sliders for shadows and highlights, it truly is not intuitive how to use these sliders for the outcome I want. I generally just randomly played about with the sliders with no actual plan what the picture would appear like.

Pixel’s very low-mild method, Evening Sight, is nonetheless impressive, brightening up and sharpening darkish scenes. It’s so good that you can use the Pixel 4 to consider photographs of a starlit sky — a course of action that usually demands a DSLR, a tripod and a good deal of endurance. I could not take a look at the astrophotography method because I was in New York and could not get to an spot darkish more than enough to consider star shots, but I did include things like a pic beneath taken by my colleague, Juan Garzon. The picture is very impressive in that a phone can capture starlight at all. Stars aside, the Pixel 4’s very low-mild method nonetheless impresses me just about every time I push the shutter.

The Pixel 4 will take sharp and vibrant photographs with wonderful contrast. The camera’s blend of telephoto and digital zoom is effective wonderful and I was capable to consider constant shots of objects that ended up significantly absent. Nevertheless zoomed visuals nonetheless confirmed digital artifacts, it was impressive how crystal clear the visuals arrived out. The camera’s managing of white stability is also place-on: Photos I took underneath yellow, heat lighting would occur out as if they ended up taken in white mild. So significantly, the Pixel 4 has a person of my beloved cameras to use on any phone.

Photos taken on the entrance-facing camera weren’t as crisp and sharp as from the rear shooter and in dim lighting faces ended up muddled about the edges. But with sufficient lighting, photographs ended up sharp and colors ended up legitimate to existence. 

One particular little quibble — Google hid primary picture settings, this sort of as the flash and timer, so you now have to tap on an added arrow on the camera’s interface to phone these equipment up. Nevertheless it declutters the interface, I come across it troublesome to tap about for something as primary as the flash.

The Pixel 4 very easily dealt with this sunny working day in Inwood Hill Park.

Lynn La/CNET

Nevertheless there are some patchy spots about Jessica’s hair, portrait method nonetheless did a good work managing the blur outcome.

Lynn La/CNET

Having a picture of stars with the Pixel 4’s new astrophotography aspect.

Juan Garzon/CNET

Zooming in on a crane with the phone’s 8x digital zoom.

Lynn La/CNET

The preceding picture, zoomed out.

Lynn La/CNET

Pixel 4’s radar-assisted facial area unlock and Android ten

Outfitted with a sensor chip Google dubbed Soli, the Pixel 4 allows you to do a several new matters like use your facial area to authorize digital payments and navigate your phone with touchless gestures. This suite of capabilities is referred to as Motion Feeling, and you can toggle it on in Configurations.

Motion Feeling takes advantage of radar for movement monitoring, and it can perception your hand when you achieve for your phone to unlock it (the facial area unlocking itself is carried out by an infrared camera, just like Deal with ID on the Iphone). This combo of readying and then firing up the tech can make facial area unlock speedier. I you should not have to tap to wake the screen or push any buttons beforehand, nor do I have to swipe afterward to use my phone. It’s all just a person fluent, cohesive course of action.


Google’s facial area unlock takes advantage of a blend of radar and infrared sensors.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Take note that while facial area unlock is secure more than enough to authorize digital payments, it truly is not 100% infallible. Google acknowledges that a person who appears like you, this sort of as a twin, can unlock your phone. Deal with unlock also is effective with your eyes shut or when you’re sleeping, which is a big vulnerability. (I can currently picture my close friends being capable to fool about with my phone if I’m caught napping about them, and there are much more major achievable scenarios.) Deal with ID for the Iphone only is effective if your eyes are open up, and at a person stage it seemed like Google would provide the similar selection to customers, according to the BBC. But it seems the firm taken out the solution, and no a person is familiar with why. (Google did not reply to a request for comment but promised to correct the trouble with a patch. The Eyes Open aspect turned readily available in April 2020.)